The World Before Mirrors by Joan Connor
(River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize)

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"What do you do for a living?" the podiatrist (or the photographer or the woman in the train station) asks, and Joan Connor answers, "I’m a writer," waiting with a cringe for the inevitable rejoinder: "Oh, boy, do I have a story for you!"

How such offerings, not stories but small reports from the thick of life, become rich reflections on the nature of waiting and writing, language and love, memory and hope, is the mystery of this award-winning collection of essays. Traveling between the poles of Ohio and Vermont, childhood and motherhood, Connor writes of a peripatetic family whose oddities make the quirks of a Thurber household seem downright subdued; of a thirteen-year-old son as an unlikely companion through the torments of middle-aged dating; of old loves and new; and through it all, of writing as a means of finding the shortest distance between two lines: hope. With language that distills insight from anecdote and transforms the stuff of middling life into telling metaphor, The World Before Mirrors, winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize, lifts the telling of a life’s stories into the realm of flight.


About Joan Connor

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Joan Connor is a professor of fiction writing at Ohio University and a co-director of the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Program. Her third collection of short stories, History Lessons, won the 2002 AWP Award in Short Fiction. A recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Grant and a Pushcart Prize, Connor is also the winner of the John Gilgun Award and the Ohio Writer Award in fiction and nonfiction.
Published June 1, 2006 by Bison Books. 148 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Project MUSE

In an essay collection, it follows, the reader enters not just the mind of the essayist, but the many-roomed mansion that is the heart and soul of the writer, the very world as seen through the writer's lens.

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